Money Out of Thin Air: ‘Air From USSR’ Selling on Russian Classifieds Site for Over 6,000 Bucks

© Sputnik / Алексей Филиппов / Go to the mediabankSoviet Coat of Arms at the VDNKh pavilion in Moscow.
Soviet Coat of Arms at the VDNKh pavilion in Moscow. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.02.2022
People around the world like to reminisce about the "good old days" and Russians are no exception, with 84 percent of those aged 55 and above expressing regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union in a recent poll. Naturally, modern-day merchants have sought to cash in on the nostalgia craze.
A lot has appeared on Avito – the Russian analogue to Craigslist or ebay – over the years, but the fact it's offering “Air from the year 1973 from the USSR" is likely to raise eyebrows.
The air, stored in an old scuba gear set, is going for 499,000 rubles, equivalent to nearly $6,600, the price of a used car or even a dacha (Russian country house) in some regions.
The seller describes the item as a perfect birthday gift, a tool for experiments, an aide for experiencing nostalgia, or even performing magic.
© Photo :"Soviet air" being sold on Russian classifieds site Avito. Screengrab.
Soviet air being sold on Russian classifieds site Avito. Screengrab. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.02.2022
"Soviet air" being sold on Russian classifieds site Avito. Screengrab.
“The air is crystal clear, the Chernobyl disaster has not happened yet, neither have all the other unpleasant things that are now raging. This air is history and creates history around itself,” the seller claims, pointing to media attention his item has received in local media.
The “Soviet air” is the latest attempt to cash in on a surprisingly steadfast trend of nostalgia for the USSR in Russia and other former Soviet republics. Last year, polling conducted on the 30th anniversary of the USSR’s disintegration found that 63 percent of Russians continue to regret the country’s collapse, among them 84 percent of those aged 55 years or above (i.e. those who got to experience life in the USSR as adults). Among young people aged 18-24, only 24 percent expressed regret. The reasons given for regret include the destruction of a unified economic system, the loss of “feeling of belonging to a great power,” and a rise in distrust and malice in society.
Since its establishment in 2007, Avito has become the most popular classifieds site in Russia and the largest in the world after Craigslist. It has had its share of funny and eccentric ads since that time, with people selling everything from “authentic” meteorites to a gently “used” oil refinery for 4.7 billion rubles (about $62 million).
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